BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Raith Rovers chief executive Eric Drysdale has urged any disgruntled supporters to get behind Gary Locke after insisting the former Kilmarnock and Hearts boss is the right man to challenge for a Premiership place.
Locke was handed a two-year contract by the Fifers to replace Ray McKinnon on Friday, prompting some fans to criticise the appointment on social media and online messageboards.
However, Drysdale has no doubt the Rovers board have got the right man for the job and is adamant Locke will carry on the stellar work done by his predecessor.
“It is important all the supporters – whether in favour of the appointment or not – get behind the new manager, because this is our club and he is here to do the very best for Raith Rovers and we all need to be pulling together.
“Gary’s coaching level at Premiership level stood him apart from many of the candidates – because what we are looking to achieve from this appointment is to take Raith Rovers forward and to eventually become a top-flight team.
“He worked at very difficult and trying circumstances in the Premiership, nevertheless they were big club operations, which we can learn from and use to our advantage. It is the right fit.”
With Locke hamstrung by a 15-point deduction and a transfer embargo during the 2013/14 season at Hearts, he put his faith in a host of youngsters such as Sam Nicholson, Jamie Walker and Billy King.
While he was able to actively recruit at Killie, he still regularly fielded youthful talents such as Mark O’Hara, Greg Kiltie and Craig Slater.
Drysdale revealed that commitment to producing players was a vital quality as the Fifers seek to be self-sufficient.
He continued: “He showed enthusiasm, professionalism and he demonstrated his approach to training as well as a commitment to bringing through young talent, which is vital at a club such as ours.
“We can’t afford to spend a lot of money on the finished article, we need to bring through our own.
“Gary has learned an awful lot from previous roles and has brought through a number of very promising young players, at Hearts in particular, and after speaking to several people in the game, no-one has a bad word to say about his ability to improve and bring on players.”
And Drysdale has revealed that Locke was given a hearty seal of approval from McKinnon, whose achievement of earning a playoff place on a shoestring budget last season earned him the Dundee United job.
He continued: “Ray [McKinnon] phoned on Friday morning, as cheery as ever, and told me he knows Lockie really well and that he will be a terrific appointment.”